The Fresh Loaf

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How can I make this more loaf airy?

KipperCat's picture

How can I make this more loaf airy?

The left slice is my mostly whole wheat bread. The right slice is store-bought 100% whole wheat. While the homemade is far superior in taste, it doesn't have near the lightness of the Mrs. Baird's. My husband doesn't like heavy bread for everyday use.

This is my whole wheat variation of Charles Van Over's Classic Pullman Loaf - page 127 of The Best Bread Ever. It yields 1 12" pullman loaf or 2 8x4 pan loaves. My only changes were to sub in the whole wheat flour, increase the water from 375 grams to 475, and the added Vit. C.


250 grams bread flour

500 grams white WW flour

10 grams dry milk

15 grams salt

1.5 tsp instant yeast

1/8 tsp. Vit. C

2 Tbsp honey

60 grams unsalted butter (melted and cooled)

475 grams water.


The dough was mixed in the food processor with the metal blade. It was processed for 30 seconds, rested about 15 minutes, and processed another 20 seconds. The dough temp was about 76F when finished. (This is Van Oher's standard method, I don't want to change it.) The dough fermented overnight in the fridge, where it increased a good bit. I don't know if it doubled, but the book says it doesn't have to for this method. I let it warm on the counter for a few hours, then shaped, let rise and baked. The dough was still cool when shaped.

As you may notice, I forgot to slash. I know that will help. Next time I'll be adding potato flakes. I've seen whole grain recipes that call for things like diastatic malt and lecithin. Will either of these help? Any other ideas?


staff of life's picture
staff of life

(I'm from the South, so they're idills or ideers, not ideas :)

Lecithin will help it stay fresher longer, but won't help with lightness.  Add some gluten.  Knead it longer.  Cool temps cause a slight reduction in volume, so let it ferment/proof at room temp.  And as for your husband, shame on him. :) I have not bought a loaf of bread from the store for my own eating in 2 years.  I did pick up a loaf of Wonderbread for my husband this week though, as he likes the lightness and lack of crust.  I was almost embarassed to have it in my cart!


KipperCat's picture

I'll add some gluten, probably 2 teaspoons. I wasn't sure they still made Wonderbread.

I'll will skip the fridge as much as possible.  It also occurrs to me now that when I need to refrigerate, I could scrape the dough out of the food processor into a flat pan instead of a bowl. The flat shape would warm up a lot faster.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The slice on the left has a pale bottom. Maybe getting more heat there might get more rise out of it. The old trick of cooling a hot loaf lying on its side is my mother's trick. Yep she still bakes bread and she's almost 80. Try baking in a darker pan if you have shiny ones. 

Oh, and add more yeast, that will get airy. 

Mini O

KipperCat's picture

I hadn't noticed the pale bottom.  The books instructions called for baking this like an artisan bread, even though in a loaf pan. That is, preheat to 475, with a stone, for an hour before baking; steaming and turning down to 400.  Instead I started it in a cool oven, and probably set it to only 350 or 375, which I thought was appropriate for a sandwich loaf. Sounds like this was a mistake?

I will try upping the yeast just a bit.  And kuddos to your Mom!  I hope I can say that when I'm almost 80. 

noelvn's picture

In the _Bread Machine Magic Book of Helpful Hints_ they mention combining lecithin & gluten in your bread to get higher loafs than you get with either ingredient in isolation. I never tried it because I like denser, chewier breads myself.

I just looked it up, and they suggest using 1/4 tsp. of lecithin per cup of flour. Their suggestion for gluten is 1 tsp. per cup of white flour, 1 1/2 tsp per cup of whole grain flour, but personally, I tend to use a bit less than a teaspoon per cup of non-white or non-bread flour (i.e. whole wheat, other grains, all purpose...).

Also, how about if you tried buttermilk as the liquid? My impression is that it makes loaves lighter and softer, but I think I'm generalizing off a very small sample set buried in misty memory, since, as noted, I prefer that my breads be neither light nor tender.


KipperCat's picture

OK, so now I have these changes:

add 1-1/4 tsp. lecithin
add 4 tsp. gluten
substitute dried buttermilk for the dried milk
add 1/3 cup potato flakes
increase water for potato flakes
increase yeast to 2 tsp.
don't retard dough
bake in a hotter oven, 400F, though keep cold start

I know the best practice is to change one thing at a time, but I've made several different whole wheat sandwich loaves that don't have the desired texture, so I'm going to throw everything I have at this one!  (just not yet, I've got a white sourdough to make tomorrow.)

KipperCat's picture

Thank  you for all of your suggestions.  They worked! 

Yesterday's loaf

Last Week's Loaf

Both slices are shown next to the store bought whole wheat loaf. In reality, there is room for improvement, but the light tender crumb is definitely there. / \ / \ / \ (Me doing cartwheels in excitement)

The extra ingredients were just enough to make this dough too much for my food processor. I ended up kneading by hand for a few minutes, then kneading in the FP, a half batch at a time. I then hand-kneaded the two pieces of dough back together. It still didn't windowpane, but I was leery of overkneading, so stopped at that point.

Instead of 2 loaves, I used 1/3 of the dough for hamburger buns, and the rest for 1 loaf. Since the original formula was for 1 12-inch loaf, that seemed appropriate. Total yield was 52 ounces of baked dough, or 3-1/3 pounds.

Next time I'll mix in the stand mixer from the beginning, and hope to get a more even crumb. I also intend to gradually increase the percentage of whole wheat flour to white flour. Right now the loaf is 1/3 bread flour.